Parasitic cancer.

Have you ever thought about the actual mechanism of death for patients with pancreatic cancer? Local progression causes pain and discomfort, sure, but it’s rarely fatal. In fact, many patients suffer stark metabolic derangements and cachexia long before they have any local symptoms at all. But what makes pancreatic cancer so different? It’s still just an adenocarcinoma, after all. A fascinating basic science inquiry using murine models reveals that adenocarcinoma growth within the pancreas, as compared to any other site, results in almost immediate fat and muscle wasting. The authors go on to demonstrate that aberrant exocrine pancreatic function is almost certainly to blame, as exogenous repletion of key pancreatic enzymes ameliorated wasting. The bad news is this repletion didn’t impact survival. TBL: Pancreatic cancer knows how to use one of our most complex organs against us, and it’s probably a lot more complicated than we realize. | Danai, Nature 2018


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